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Does poverty impact student academic outcomes and wellbeing in Australian universities? A systematic review

Authors:

Nicole Renee Brownfield ,

Swinburne University of Technology, AU
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Monica Thielking,

Swinburne University of Technology, AU
About Monica
Associate Professor Monica Thielking is an internationally-renowned researcher in the areas of school psychology and the cross-sector impacts of poverty, childhood trauma and disadvantage on families and individuals. She conducts industry-connected research that has national and international implications for shifting public policy and informing service delivery for vulnerable populations, with a particular research interest in school psychological service delivery, ethical school psychological practice, and understanding how trauma and disadvantage impacts youth outcomes in schools and other youth settings.
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Glen Bates,

Swinburne University of Technology, AU
About Glen
Glen Bates is a Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Clinical Psychology at Swinburne University of Technology. From 2013-2019 Glen led the university strategies on retention, employability and student support as the pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Engagement). Glen has been a practising psychologist for more than 30 years and has published many articles investigating mental health and the role of narrative in psychological research.
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Fiona Morrison

Swinburne University of Technology, AU
About Fiona
Fiona Morrison is a Doctor of Psychology (Clinical and Forensic) candidate, completing the final year of her postgraduate studies. Her Doctoral thesis involves the development, implementation and evaluation of a group treatment program designed to reduce aggressive scripts rehearsed by offenders in a prison environment. She works as a research assistant in the fields of both forensic and clinical psychology.
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Abstract

Preliminary evidence suggests that Australian university students have higher levels of financial stress and food insecurity relative to the general population. However, the impact of poverty on students’ university experiences is rarely considered. The current systematic review sought to investigate whether poverty is associated with poorer academic outcomes and wellbeing in Australian tertiary students. The search included a range of terms related to financial stress, food insecurity, homelessness, housing insecurity, attrition, academic achievement, satisfaction with life, general health, and psychological distress. Twenty-seven (65.9%) of the 41 studies revealed a negative relationship between poverty and wellbeing, and/or a negative relationship between poverty and university engagement within Australian university student samples. Overall, the review found that poverty within tertiary students is associated with negative impacts on academic performance and well-being. Universities, governments, and researchers are therefore urged to explicitly identify the issue of poverty within higher education to begin to address it appropriately.
How to Cite: Brownfield, N.R., Thielking, M., Bates, G. and Morrison, F., 2020. Does poverty impact student academic outcomes and wellbeing in Australian universities? A systematic review. Journal of Social Inclusion, 11(2), pp.4–19.
Published on 04 Dec 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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